NEW HAVEN, Conn. (WTNH) – Business owners in the New Haven area heard from top state lawmakers Thursday morning.

They gave the Greater New Haven Chamber of Commerce a preview of the upcoming legislative session in a virtual roundtable. In about three weeks, the short session begins in Hartford.

In New Haven, the Chamber of Commerce spoke with lawmakers about the concerns of businesses.

“The pandemic is certainly going to shape this session,” State Sen. Christine Cohen (D-Guilford) said. “We are going to be talking about Covid relief. Our businesses continue to be impacted by this.”

The pandemic has also exploded in the real estate market. New housing is going up all over the New Haven area.

“So many communities have very little affordable housing,” Senate President Pro Tempore Martin Looney (D-New Haven) said. “In a state as small as Connecticut, that’s a very stark contrast.”

“But when you look at affordable housing in Connecticut, one of the biggest impediments, if not the biggest impediment, is that the cost of housing rises faster than people’s wages,” State Senate Minority Leader Kevin Kelly (R-Stratford) said.

That high cost of real estate is one thing holding back the booming bioscience sector.

“What we need to do as a caucus is really listen, and that’s what we’ve been doing,” Cohen said. “Hearing that space is an issue for bioscience companies. Hearing that workforce is an issue.”

So is transportation. Expansion of Tweed-New Haven Regional Airport and improving transportation infrastructure are also important for all businesses and their employees.

“I think it’s 40% of the residents of New Haven do not have a car,” State Sen. James Maroney (D-Milford) said. “So, how do we create mass transportation, right? And how do we improve our trains?”

Maybe the biggest problem for businesses is the lack of employees. Everyone is looking to hire, but many workers are still getting unemployment benefits.

“We need to encourage people to go to work,” State Sen. Paul Cicarella (R-East Haven) said. “People are nervous to make a little bit of extra money because they are going to lose their benefits.”

Some of that has to do with the federal government. At the state level, the budget is balanced, and the rainy-day fund is looking good. The state is in such good financial shape that Republicans are looking to cut the sales tax to help offset inflation. Democrats have their sights set on cutting local property taxes. That is something we will see play out over the next few months.